IP rules to be changed to give access to environmental technology
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On 20 November 2007, the Members of the European Parliament (EP) approved a
report that asks for the revision of the World Trade Organization Agreement
on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in order to
allow the compulsory licensing of patented environmental technologies.
The European Parliament considers developing countries should be able to
have free access to the technologies developed to target the environmental
issues such as climate change. This action comes also as a result of the
environmental activists’ criticism of the EU Global Paper stating the
intention to ask for a high level of Intellecutual Property (IP) standards
on European markets. According to environmental activists, such a policy
creates problems for developing countries that cannot afford expensive
“With a high IPR (intellectual property rights) regime, products and
processes are now patented and less accessible (…) So to really achieve
the transfer of climate-friendly technology, the biggest incentive would be
to eliminate IPRs related to these technologies.” said campaigner Meena
Raman from Friends of the Earth group.
Dalindyebo Shabalala of the Center for International Environmental Law in
Geneva believes TRIPS should include clearer provisions on the patent
excepts related to public health and environmental emergencies and waiving
patents should ensure wider availability of fuel-efficient cars.
French Green MEP Alain Lipietz, the author of the EP report drafted in
preparation to the international conference on climate change taking place
between 3-14 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia, considers that not only IP
rules should be revised but also tariffs on “green goods” should be
eliminated and means should be found to subsidise polluting industries.
On the other hand, Stavros Dimas, the European commissioner for the
environment, stated that the cost of the IP rights in such technologies is a
relatively small part of the whole cost and that there are other issues to
be taken into consideration when talking about barriers to technology
transfer such as the economical policies of the developing countries. He
considers that many companies are not willing to invest in developing
countries where their IP rights are not protected and “if capacity-building
in the host country is inadequate.”
More discussions on all the types of barriers to the transfer of
environmentally-friendly technologies will be held during the present
conference in Bali.
EU Parliament Urges Change In IP Rules For Environmental Technology
European Parliament resolution of 29 November 2007 on trade and climate